Study finds Lake Erie, Detroit River improvements but cites threats

A lot in the water and shoreline of the Detroit River and western Lake Erie is much more environmentally sound than a generation or two ago, but new threats to the ecosystem are approaching tipping points, according to a 500-page, two-year study to be released Tuesday by an array of concerned officials and private citizens from the United States and Canada.

“Checkup: Assessing Ecosystem Health of the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie,” the 11th annual “State of the Strait” report, calls for new attention and remedial action to secure a healthful future.

“We’ve seen some really amazing ecological revivals of the Detroit River,” said John Hartig, a conservationist who helped prepare the international report, sponsored by companies, nonprofit groups, philanthropy and other sources.

“There were no bald eagles, 30 years ago, peregrine falcons, osprey, lake sturgeon or lake white fish spawning in the Detroit River. Mayflies weren’t around, and beaver weren’t here.

“But they are all back,” said Hartig, a visiting scholar at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research and a member of the board of directors of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

“Lake Erie is the same way. The bad news is we have some major problems, a series of problems, eight of which are documented in the report,” he said.

Climate change, pollution and nutrient-rich runoff from the land, algae blooms, toxic contamination, invasive species, habitat loss and degradation, urban sprawl and environmental justice are all pressing issues, according to the

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